In just two, short days, the St. Louis Blues got to see the highs and lows of their prospect pool. It is to be expected with high talent ceilings, but little experience.
The Blues took part in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in Minnesota over the weekend. While it was not a tournament really, the team still got to see their up and coming talent pool take on the same age bracket of players from their rivals.
The Blues opened up the showcase on September 15 against the Minnesota Wild. They had a rather impressive showing with a nice 5-1 win.
St. Louis had five different goal scorers in the victory. Mikhail Abramov, Keean Washkurak, Alexis Bonefon, Nikita Alexandrov and Zach Dean provided the offense.
The first three are still names on the distant horizon, but it’s good to see Alexandrov and Dean get involved. Alexandrov will almost surely see at least some NHL time in 2023-24 and Dean is a prospect the Blues really hope will pan out since they acquired him for Ivan Barbashev. It is also good for Abramov to score since he was part of the return for Ryan O’Reilly.
Also featuring in the victory was another up and coming goaltender. Vadim Zherenko made several key saves to keep the Blues well established in the lead.
Zachary Bolduc added two assists in the game too. He is another name looking to crack the roster this season, though 2024-25 seems more reasonable.
However, for all the good feelings that win produced, it was turned on it’s head the following night. St. Louis got shut out in their Saturday game.
Not only does a shutout sting in general, but it came against the Chicago Blackhawks. Pouring salt in that wound, the Blues gave up a hat trick to Connor Bedard.
On the positive side, the game remained scoreless through about halfway. Colten Ellis was pitching his own shutout when the Blues made the switch in goal.
Unfortunately, 2020 sixth-round pick, Will Cranley was not so lucky. While the Blues had been holding up until that point, the defense eventually cracked and Cranley gave up five goals the rest of the way.
According to the Post-Dispatch recap, the Blues had four power play opportunities in the first 22 minutes. Clearly, based on a 5-0 score, St. Louis failed to score at all, but going 0-4 with the man advantage was something we saw all too often with the main roster in 2022-23.
Of course, you can’t make too much out of these contests, win or lose. The fact it is just against other prospects doesn’t tell you much in terms of how they’ll fit in with older players or what kind of player they may be.
It’s good to see Bolduc getting assists and a couple players acquired in recent trades get on the score sheet. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be scorers in the NHL, nor does it really change their prospects of making the team in 2023-24 much.
It was nice to see two additional goaltenders play well. Cranley didn’t have a good showing, but he’s only a couple years out from being drafted.
Zharenko and Ellis are probably going to be the tandem in the AHL this season, unless the Blues add any more depth. Getting them off to a good start will bode well in case St. Louis has any injuries.
Overall, this is how things go for prospects. You have one really good performance and a stinker the following chance.
This was a good starting point for some of these guys. It never hurts to hit the ground running, especially with this particular showcase coming closer to the actual training camp than the Traverse City one used to.